“You don’t always get the dog you want, but you get the dog that you need.” – Cesar Millan
I didn’t know who that quote was attributed to, until I looked it up! I certainly wouldn’t go around quoting him, especially for a post on positive pet training, but I do think he might have been right about that. In a perfect world, that quote could be turned around as well….that a dog gets the family he or she needs as well (if only that were always the case).
When faced with this month’s Positive Pet Training blog hop theme of “transportation”, I was stumped. It brought a lot of things to mind…..how our first dog Shelby drooled like crazy the first time she rode in the car, and I, completely new to being a dog Mom, was really grossed out by that! Now I can reach into my dog’s mouth to take something undesirable out of it. I’ve come a long way since then! (Shelby did eventually get used to the car too.)
Our dogs Maggie and Kobi loved to ride in the car. We took them camping just about every weekend, so it was routine. When we lost Maggie and just months later became a four-dog family, we stayed home a lot more. The three new dogs never really became fans of riding, so Kobi got to go for rides to run errands, and every weekend went to the dump with Dad. We didn’t work a lot with the others, simply because we didn’t need to….they didn’t go a lot of places and were happy at home playing in their yard. They never loved riding, but they did OK when we took them places for walks or swimming.
When Luke joined our family, I wanted to be sure he enjoyed riding in the car, so we tried to get him in the car a lot more. It was my plan that he would become our dog who went more places, and take over Kobi’s role when he was gone; especially since I knew the others were getting older and things would eventually change. I thought we might travel more, maybe rent a cabin, and take dogs with us. Maybe he’d do agility, and we’d travel to competitions.
At first it was fine, but in time Luke became fearful of more and more things, strangers being the biggest one, then we found out he had luxating patellas, and between all that agility was out. He did fine when we traveled to a trainer and tried to work on some of his fear issues. He became the dog who went to the dump with the Dadz every weekend after Kobi was gone.
It was all mostly good for a while, until the day a few months ago when the Dadz took him out to his truck for the dump run, and Luke refused to get in. At first, we could bribe him in if I helped, or we used treats, but eventually that didn’t even work. It felt like giving up, but we decided that trying to force him to do something he clearly didn’t want to wasn’t going to be best for him, so he stayed home with Cricket and I. Besides, when Luke doesn’t want to do something? He won’t budge (see “At My Wit’s End”).
We haven’t given up on Luke riding, but it’s just become another thing on a long list that we’re going to have to work on slowly. Sometimes he’ll get in the car….he’s helped me out with some photo shoots of seat covers (that was just back in November), but if you get the vehicle moving, he shakes like a leaf.
That gets me back to that quote. Luke is teaching us a lot about accepting him for who he is. While we’ll work on things to try to help him, we’ve accepted that he’s never going to be that dog I dreamed of when he first came home with us. He’s going to be a homebody like us, and even having people visit might always be challenging.
That’s what we’ve seemed to settle into anyway, and now that we’ve started the farm, not many trips or vacations are going to happen anyway. We can get away occasionally when my sister can stay here (the only other person Luke accepts), and the Dadz is happy to be home when I go away for a weekend here and there with the girls. I think it was more my desire to go away for those weekends with dogs than it ever was his anyway (he thinks it’s more relaxing to go away without “the kids”!).
Therefore, I can’t write much about transportation for this blog hop. I know there are ways we can work with Luke, and we may, but it’s just not a priority right now. I can’t help but think about that quote, and that my hubby and I got the right dog for us. Luke is pretty laid back and happy now just being home and going for walks, and hanging out with me when I’m working at home.
Lately I’ve been a little frustrated with Luke, because it seems like he gives us more things to work on in time, not less. Case in point: one day recently Luke and I got home from a walk and I was wiping him off with a towel. I saw a tick on his leg, and I reached over and flicked it off him, then disposed of it. He freaked out a bit….Luke has a thing about being touched when he thinks you’re “doing something” to him. Now, whenever I get that towel out to dry him off? He jumps away and won’t let me. Sigh.
There are days I feel like no one can really understand what we’re dealing with, exactly what Luke’s level of insecurities are. I scour reactive dog groups for dogs similar to him, but no one has quite the same issues.
He got the family he needed, because I think we are the only ones who truly understand him (though even we often can’t figure out what makes him tick), love him more than anything, and we’re not going to push him too hard to do things he doesn’t want to. It doesn’t mean we won’t continue to try to work on his issues (we’ll be trying a new product soon, that I hope is going to help Luke relax some). We’re also content to have our loving boy – our official farm dog – who’s happy to stay home and be on the farm like we are.
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Transportation”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!
Tenacious Little Terrier says
I didn’t realize that was a Milan quote either. Luke found the right home for him! I wonder why he suddenly decided he didn’t like cars. Have you seen the desensitizing class at fenzi?
I’m not sure he ever really liked riding in the car. We used to keep him in the back with a barrier when we had the other girls. He seemed fine back there, but maybe he was nervous and we didn’t know it because we weren’t right next to him to see him shaking. OR, he felt more safe back there. I may need to bring the barrier back, or try a crate. I will look for that class at Fenzi, thank you!
When our new puppy continued to get carsick, our holistic veterinarian suggested Happy Traveler. It worked wonders. Once River understood that she could travel without getting sick, we don’t have to give it to her any more. It was clearly triggered only by anxiety; she had never ridden in a car before we got her.
I have finally realized that my senior miniature poodle’s behavior when we go camping is part excitement – and part anxiety. I’m sure that when you are 90% blind and 100% deaf, the truck ride and new location can be a bit scary. I think that the Happy Traveler capsules are pretty big for him. My holistic vet recommended VetriScience Composure Pro chews to help him with his mild anxiety. They are good for dogs and cats and are natural and nonprescription. I’m going to try it with our senior pooch during our next trip. He seems to handle things well, but eats very little on our trips. We need to help him out a little. To leave him behind would be more anxiety-producing for all of us, and yet my husband and I really need to get away from the city now and then. We hope this will help. I’m not saying that you need to medicate Luke, but there may be a time that he NEEDS to go somewhere in the car. Like Monika & Sam above, I also like CBD oil; we use for my senior dog’s arthritis. It is also good for some level’s of anxiety – it helped our silky terrier who was quite anxious to sleep through the night and calm down to more normal levels.
You are right. It is fine now since we don’t travel at all, but if we want to some day we may need to consider medications. I’m not totally against them, but I keep them as a last resort. And I am fine with natural products.
We are just starting to try a new Hemp product. We had limited results with one CBD product, but I thought it would be worth trying another.
Jodi Stone says
It brings to mind another quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
Sometimes I don’t know whether it refers more to the dog or the person, but having a challenging dog myself, I have learned and grown so much as an animal lover because of her.
I think if you keep looking, you will hit on the right thing to help Luke. I also think, some of this might be things he outgrows. I know Delilah did outgrow a number of her issues.
Keep up the good work, and if you ever get discouraged, hit me up.
Thank you, Jodi! We definitely have hope he will outgrow some of these things. And yes, I have also learned and grown a lot as an animal lover too, as well as learning to be a more patient person all around!
Bell Fur Zoo says
That is a great quote and we think Luke is pretty special and found his perfect family. I hope he gets over his fear of the towel soon. Matt isn’t very reactive as he has gotten older but when he first picked us to be his family we could not be quick to touch him cause he would wince and sometime low growl. I think whoever had him and dumped him was not a very nice human being 🙁 But thank goodness that went away pretty quick and he became glued to my son. He loves that boy like no one else and mopes when he is not home.
Matt loves a car ride but if we turn on to the road that heads to the vet he immediately knows and starts to panic/freak out but in general he looks out the window til he is over that and passes out cold in the back seat. But he has many quirks and we know a vacation with him would be a no go especially since he is wishy washy with who he likes. It is a bummer having to put him up when certain people come over or small children but I do that for him not them cause I know it stresses him out and if he is in my sons room with the tv on then he can chill out and be none the wiser there are other people here 😉 Matt definitely chose us the rainy day he strolled into our garage and never left.
Bell Fur Zoo Mom
I love Matt’s story! It’s encouraging to me to hear that he has gotten less reactive as he’s gotten older. I do think some of Luke’s issues are different than a lot of dogs, because his stem from genetics, not any kind of abuse (we’ve had him from 8 weeks old).
But I do think we may have pushed him too much when meeting new people and we screwed that up. What you do with Matt when some people or children come over has me re-thinking what we do with Luke. I wonder if he would be happier in a quiet room with a fan or music on; that’s something we’ve never tried. I always feel bad because I think he wants to be with us, and doesn’t like being alone. But maybe if he can’t hear us he’d do better.
Well, it’s on ongoing process, and sometimes a lot of trial and error, that’s for sure!
Thank you. xxoo
Shadow & Ducky's Mom says
I love that quote! It’s one of the few things I agree with Cesar on these days. And it’s true. Ducky surely hasn’t been an easy dog for us, like Callie and Shadow; but accepting her the way she is makes it so much easier to deal with her issues. I know it’s difficult having a reactive dog. In that you are not alone. Each dog has its own unique issues, it’s true; but you’re not alone in living with a reactive dog. I would focus on that point for your own peace of mind.
Pamela had a great thought about talking to/emailing with Leslie. Her Bella has had many fears, but with professional help, Leslie and her hubby have been able to help her a great deal. Bella also had cruciate issues around the same time Shadow started having hers, so she was at the very least emotionally supportive for me.
Leslie is great, and I used to love reading her blog! We are still FB friends and I may reach out to her one of these days. But seeking professional help is just something we’re resistant to, mostly for financial reasons….but also because that kind of help is limited in our area.
sand spring chesapeakes says
That really is a great quote. I’m sorry Luke doesn’t love his rides in the vehicle’s and sorry to hear about the tick set back. My gang loves rides almost a little too much.
You probably have those dogs that jump into other people’s cars if they leave them open in your driveway! LOL
Around here, only our chickens do that. 🙂
Monika & Sam 🐾 says
Acknowledging the metamorphosis in Luke is pretty darn amazing step. Sam used to enjoy car rides when I had the 2 OES’s. Then somewhere along the way, he became like Luke. LOVES the ‘idea’ of going for a ride, but as soon as the key is turned, he turns into Flat Stanley and shakes like a leaf. Long trips especially bother him. Now when I need to go visit my parents (120 miles away), I dose him with some CBD oil and while I know he’s not enjoying it, he isn’t hyperventilating himself into a stroke and stays low but calm. These dogs sure are a blessing in that we have to think about life from their end of the leash. 😍
I believe we need to always be learning and growing, especially as we get older, to keep our brains in good shape. Our animals certainly provide us with opportunities to do that! 🙂
Sheba was a lot like Sam sounds. She never liked riding, but we at least got her to the point where she would just lay down and stay calm. I took her for short rides to go for walks or swims a lot and I think that might have helped her a lot.
Ellen Pilch says
I thought all dogs liked to ride in cars. 🙂
As well as all cats hating it….I imagine there are some exceptions to that rule too (not that I’ve ever had a cat that liked to ride!!). 🙂
I wonder why he became so fearful and reactive. He is lucky to have a great home.
I think wires routinely become disconnected in his brain….that’s all I can figure. LOL. We have to laugh about it or we’d just cry, right?
Mary McNeil says
Is Luke missing / mourning the loss of the other dogs he’s known ? That might be making him more timid.
That is a great insight, Mary, and something I’d never considered. He certainly has experienced a lot of loss (three canine siblings) in his four short years. He has seemed to adjust fine, but maybe dogs, like people, sometimes hide those feelings and it’s not healthy for them either. 🙁
The Island Cats says
Luke certainly presents his challenges, doesn’t he? But he’s with the right family that will meet all those challenges. 🙂
Thank you. ♥
Sharon, Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog says
What an insightful story. I agree that we have expectations for our pets that they just can’t realize, but once we see them for who they are – the journey is rich and rewarding. Luke is lucky to have you.
Thank you! I think it’s important for us to remember that dogs are individuals just like people. We all have our issues, and some of us have more than others. ♥
Melissa Clinton says
Luke definitely got the family he needs! Pierre has some trust issues when it comes to his recall. The boys ride in their car kennel on trips and enjoy it.
Thank you, Melissa. I do think if we decide to try the car again, putting a kennel in there might be the next thing we try. I think Luke would be far more comfortable in there.
I know how you feel – with a reactive/fearful dog, it can feel really overwhelming at times. I pick the issues that are most important to me and work on those, leaving the others by the wayside. And, when new issues get added to the list, I want to cry.
I’m so glad that Luke got you! Have you considered the Fenzi bogeyman course? We took it, and we’re playing a lot but we still have a long way to go. It does feel as if getting Shyla into a “playing state of mind” helps her to be less vigilant.
Things have been so crazy here, I haven’t even had time to consider a new course at Fenzi. Then there’s so many great ones to choose from, I don’t know what to do!
I definitely hope to sign up for something in the next semester, when things will hopefully be quieter her. Luke and I need to work on something, it’s just a matter of figuring out what would be best.
You do great with Shyla, and she has obviously come a long way. ♥
Roby Sweet says
I’m glad that Luke landed in a home where he is loved for who he is!
Our Layla is funny about going for rides. She’s so excited to get in the car, but once we start moving she cries and barks (directly into the driver’s ear, no less) until we get home again. Years ago I had a Lab mix who I could take everywhere with me–he loved to ride, and he loved people. So when we got Layla, I envisioned taking her places just like I did with the Buckster. But even short rides turn into stressful experiences for both of us. I have gotten her to a nearby park a couple of times. The first time she was totally freaked out and wouldn’t even go for a walk. The second time she was more comfortable and seemed to have fun exploring. So I’m hoping to do more of that with her and hoping she’ll get more and more comfortable with it.
But I’ve had to accept that Layla is not Bucky, and I know exactly what you mean about loving the dog you have, not the dog you thought you were getting!
I have my own issues, and think of myself as far from normal, so I think that helps me with Luke! LOL
It sounds like you are doing great with Layla, taking your time and working with her slowly. Our beagle Kobi loved riding, but also whined a lot when he did. He would mostly whine when he saw people, and we often thought he was whining because he wanted to see everyone and explore everywhere he saw. 🙂
Kobi was an awesome dog, and I don’t think any other dog could live up to him. It sounds like your Bucky might have been the same. Maybe we’re only meant to have one really awesome dog in our lives, and the rest just come to us because they need us. ♥
Luke and Rye definitely have some similarities! Ever since Rye had the glass taken out of her foot, she growls at me when I try to towel her off (and with the mud puddles we’ve had in our yard, there’s been a lot of toweling off). Her foot is completely healed, so I know she’s not in pain–and she’ll do it when I just go to towel her belly–so I think she’s just really mad about being restrained. I haven’t figured out how to work on that yet since it’s hard enough to towel her off without trying to give treats at the same time–but it makes Barley crazy when she hears Rye growl at me, so it’s definitely something we have to work on! I love how patient you are with Luke and how willing you are to meet him where he’s at. You really are the perfect match!
Thank you so much, Beth. I know you have issues with Rye that can be just as frustrating, and I admire how much you work with her to get past those things. ♥
I’m reminded of Kitty, the cat we got when I was in middle school. She wasn’t cuddly – her way of showing she loves you was to spend every minute in the same room as you. For years, I lamented not having a cat to cuddle with – I wanted the cat in my mind. But like people kids, they have minds of their own and not everything goes the way we plan. Loving them regardless is the best we can do.
I am grateful every day that Luke is at least a loving, cuddly boy with us. It really makes up a lot for the other issues he has. I think we have to focus on the good things, even if it’s just quiet companionship like your Kitty gave you. ♥
Brian Frum says
We think Luke is very special and yep, he is right at home where he was meant to be!
Thank you so much!! ♥
In a sense, Luke might give you an excuse to stay home with your menagerie on your lovely farm. 🙂
But I understand how frustrating it must be to see Luke react with fear to new things. I think the person who would most be able to relate to your experience is Leslie of http://www.bringingupbella.com. Bella has come a long way and Leslie is no longer blogging. But I know that in addition to training, they have worked with a veterinary behavior consultant to oversee a medication regimen for Bella.
Fear in both humans and dogs is a function of the brain’s connections and chemicals. Training can absolutely affect the brain as you’ve seen. But the brain is so complex that there’s no way possible to understand everything that is going on in Luke’s. So I hope you’re able to give yourself a break if you can’t fix everything in Luke’s brain that is telling him to be afraid.
If any dog was meant to be with an introvert like me, it was Luke, so you are very right about that!
If Luke came from a abusive home, I might feel more like we could change him with love and training. But because it’s clearly genetic, I’ve come to realize we won’t be able to change some things. I hope maybe in time those things might change, but mostly we focus on managing things and trying to figure out how to get around some of the others. I worry about him a lot, but try to focus on just keeping him as happy as possible.
I do know Leslie and Bella, and I certainly spent a lot of time reading her blog! I’m resistant to going the medication route, but we are trying some natural things that I hope will help him.